An Orange County professor is suing his students for copyright infringement after finding portions of his exams on a website used for sharing study materials.
The lawsuit was filed Friday on behalf of Chapman University Assistant Professor David A. Berkovitz, who is demanding a jury trial for the five unnamed defendants. KTLA was provided a copy of the lawsuit by Berkovitz’s lawyer, Marc Hankin.
According to the complaint, Berkovitz in January 2022 found portions of a midterm and final exam he created for his spring 2021 business course on Course Hero, a website where students can access study materials for specific schools and courses.
About a month later, Berkovitz submitted copyright applications for those midterm and final exams and was granted the copyright registrations on Feb. 25, 2022, according to the lawsuit.
Now, Berkovitz alleges the defendants infringed on his exclusive right to reproduce, make copies, distribute, or create derivative works when the exams were published on Course Hero on or before Feb. 23, 2022, without his permission.
His attorney, Hankin, also brings up that it is unfair to classmates who didn’t access Course Hero for the exams.
“Not only is it unethical and a violation of the honor code, but more importantly the business law courses are graded on a curve. So if one or more students artificially inflates their own grade, they’re artificially suppressing the grades of their classmates who worked hard, studied hard, and are doing their own work,” Hankin told KTLA in an interview.
At the time of the filing, the complaint said Berkovitz does not yet know the identities of the defendants – but he says only the students enrolled in his spring 2021 Business 215 course at Chapman University would have had access to the specific exams found on Course Hero.
The complaint said it will be amended when Berkovitz finds out the defendants’ names and roles in the alleged infringement.
In the lawsuit, the assistant professor is requesting a permanent injunction – meaning he wants a court order that prevents the defendants and other participants from directly or indirectly infringing the copyrights for the midterm and final exams.
He also requests an order of impoundment on all devices that hold copies of the copyrighted exams within the defendants’ possession, custody and control.
In addition, Berkovitz is requesting: “an award of actual damages and profits; an award of statutory damages for willful infringement; an award of attorneys’ fees; prejudgment interest; costs of the suit; and any and all additional relief that the Court may deem just and proper.”
Check back for more details on this developing story.